Anthony R. Miller checks in with speculations of his life in an alternate universe.
Like many of us theatre nerds, we all have our “And that’s the day I knew I wanted to do Theatre” story. For me, I was 8 or so, and my mom took me to see West Side Story, and that was it. I was totally dazzled by every aspect and right there decided this was the life for me, But today, let’s speculate on what would have happened if I didn’t see a play that day. There are few possibilities, five to be exact.
Despite not being the most coordinated person in the world, or having much upper body strength, if it wasn’t for the allure of theatre, It’s entirely possible my childhood of doing elbow drops from the couch and giving DDT’s would have led me down this career path. I would have had a totally sweet name, like, Johnny Pain, black and silver spandex, and “Walk” by Pantera would have been my theme song. It was only later in life that I realized this wasn’t a far cry from the theatre (As I have discussed at length on this blog). Funny story: In the 7th grade there was this little cockbag named Mark who would harass me almost daily, he put dog shit in my backpack, throw my books into the street, and constantly challenge me to fight. So one day I finally fought him and after 3 minutes of sitting on his chest while he screamed at me to get off him so he could kick my ass, I decided to seal the deal with the ‘ol Boston Crab, because on TV it looked painful as fuck. (Spoiler Alert: It isn’t)
While I acknowledge this is basically a profession on the verge of extinction, at one point, as far as I was concerned, there was no cooler job. This was at a time where DJ’s actually had sway over programming; they picked the songs they’d play. Johnny Fever in WKRP in Cincinnati was one of the coolest things ever in my 12 year old mind. So when I say, I wish I was a radio DJ, more specifically I wish I was a radio DJ in the late 70’s.
But not just any bartender, when I say Bartender, I mean Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail. The bottle flippin, poetry reciting, lady lovin badass with big dreams. And while in reality, a career in theatre is no reason to not be a bartender (Often it is WHY one is a Bartender) turns out neither was nearly as glamorous as advertised. I should still learn the bottle flipping thing, if only to be ready for the inevitable stage adaptation.
Rick Rubin is one of my personal heroes, and has been since freshman year of High School. His approach of helping a band find the essence of their sound has resulted in some of the greatest records ever made. He’s worked with everyone; Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Red Hot Chili Peppers, System of A Down and FUCKIN’ SLAYER! In another world where Anthony didn’t fall in love with theatre, I would have a sweet bushy beard, be super eccentric and be a bona fide hitmaker. And I suppose being a Dramaturg and Theatre Producer is similar, but with way less drugs and women…significantly less.
To be honest, this is something I actually kind of pursued. I used to perform in front of folks and make them laugh all the time. I’ve been lucky enough to perform for crowds all over the country, being funny. But at a certain point, I started to prefer anonymity. When it’s me in front of people, I am accountable for everything I say. People assume that the person I am on stage is the person I am in real life, which could not have been further from the truth. You never get to be yourself, because when people talk to you and you aren’t exactly who they expect, they walk away muttering to their friend “I heard he’s a total dick in real life”. That actually happened to me, which sucked. It made no sense to me, I wasn’t actually a person to that guy, I was just a dancing bear who this guy basically decided I was obligated to be funny and crazy instead of just getting to be a normal person drinking coffee and reading. The beauty of writing plays is that people don’t necessarily know what I look like, the characters talk for me and can say whatever I want. I enjoy the anonymity. So here I am, a medium-small-time writer and producer with a day job, which isn’t nearly as glamorous as some of these other options, but not so different either.
Anthony R. Miller is a writer, director and producer. Keep up with his projects at www.awesometheatre.org.